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The Maldives churn in the Indian Ocean

  • Published
    13th Sep, 2023

Context:

India's foreign policy faces challenges from South Asian democracies, but now it is important that India focus on strategy to deal with the Maldives, as its presence matters in the Indian Ocean region (IOR).

Maldives President's Electoral Challenge

  • Solih's Electoral Challenge: Solih's "India First" policy faces a challenge as he secures 05% in Maldives' election, with a runoff against Muizzu.
  • Nasheed's Political Shift: Nasheed's support shift to Muizzu alters political dynamics.
  • Impact on India's Regional Strategy: Election outcome impacts India's regional strategy, countering China's influence in the Indian Ocean.

Religious Extremism and Foreign Influence

  • Religious Extremism and ISIS Affiliation: Maldives has witnessed a surge in religious extremism, with a notable number of citizens reportedly joining ISIS. This trend raises security concerns.
  • Muizzu's Salafist Backing: Adding support to prominent Salafist NGO adds complexity to the political landscape, potentially influencing the nation's religious dynamics.
  • India-China Rivalry in the Maldives: Amidst India-China competition for influence in the Maldives, the political drama involving shift in support and Solih's electoral challenge could impact India's "Neighbourhood First" policy aimed at countering China's growing presence in South Asia.

Strategic Significance and India's Stance

  • Strategic Location as a "Toll Gate": The Maldives, situated in the Indian Ocean, serves as a crucial point for international sea routes. It holds significance due to its location between key sea lanes.
  • China’s Influence: Despite President Solih's attempts to balance relations with India, Beijing has maintained its influence in the Maldives, reflecting the complexities of regional diplomacy.
  • India's Proactive Diplomacy: India has pursued proactive diplomacy in the region through defense pacts and infrastructure development. These efforts aim to safeguard India's strategic interests and counter China's growing presence.
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